Whether you’re a trance junkie, a metal head, an indie rocker or electro bopper, there’s no denying that music festivals are a pretty awesome way to spend a weekend in South Africa. Apart from providing an endless supply of sunshine and good sounds, festival are fun, crazy and happy and they create memories you won’t soon forget. There’s just something about camping on a farm in the middle of nowhere, jamming it out to some amazing sounds whilst being with your friends, meeting some friendly, weird strangers and partying till the sun comes up.
To get in the mood for the festival season this year and to make sure your music festival calendar up to date with all the latest happenings so you don’t miss out, check out these awesome South African music festivals happening soon (in chronological order).
Date: 20 – 22 September 2013
Venue: Pronkies Holiday Farm, Piketberg, Western Cape
Cost: R320 – R450
For many, Earthdance Cape Town is the start of the festival season. If you’re a trance party rookie and you’re keen to give it a try, this is probably the best one to start with. The vision of the weekend festival is to unite the whole world in peace through the universal platform of dance and music. In 2012, more than 300 Earthdance events took place in over 60 countries – all of them over the same weekend. At some point during the festival (in South Africa this usually happens in the early hours of Sunday morning) all the parties join in a collective Prayer for Peace meditation. The same song is played at all the events at exactly the same time, connecting all participants around the world in solidarity for peace. At Earthdance, you don’t have to worry about getting trampled, because there folks help you up if you fall instead of taking your place to be closer to the stage. A nice bunch, really.
Date: 3 – 6 October 2013
Venue: Cloof Estate, Darling, Western Cape
Cost: R600 – R700
Rocking the Daisies has grown into what is probably Cape Town’s biggest live music festival. It also signifies the unofficial start to the rock music festival season. Rocking the Daisies attracts about 15 000 locals every year, meaning that the international acts are quite impressive too. Bloc Party headlined 2012 and Band of Skulls graced the stage in 2011. This year you can look forward to Alt J, The Hives and Skunk Anansie. Off course the local indie, folk and rock acts are just as entertaining. But, at Daisies, the bands aren’t the only attraction. The scenic, mountainous location is transformed into a mini village, with a market, a large variety of food stalls (probably the closest to gourmet you’ll get at a festival), a comedy tent, beach bar, cinema tent, children’s play area, beat barn and a more-than-massive electro dome that’ll definitely see you through to morning.
To keep it green, you can even join Walking the Daisies and walk to the festival, but you’ll need this guide on how to survive Walking the Daisies. Still not convinced? Read why Rocking the Daisies 2012 rocked and then check out these tips on how to dress for Rocking the Daisies.
Date: 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2013
Venue: Theewaterskloof Dam, Theewaterskloof, Western Cape
Cost: R450 – R600
What used to be a one-night trance party many years ago is now one of South Africa’s fastest growing live music festivals, Synergy Live. Apart from the main stage, where many great South African rock acts perform every year, there’s also the Your LMG Stage that gives local indie and alternative bands a chance to perform. A comedy tent, market, food stalls and the massive Theewaterskloof Dam should keep you cool and nourished while the giant electro stage will keep you going in the small hours of the morning. Yes, the festival’s focus is pretty much divided between rock and electro. Synergy usually brings one international act to the stage each year. Last year saw Prodigy tearing up the main stage while Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Feeder graced the stage in the past. Read more about our web editor, Tyson Jopson’s experience of Synergy Live 2011 here.
Date: 5 – 9 December 2013
Venue: Circle of Dreams, Riveriersonderend, Western Cape
Cost: R300 – R400
If you like trance music, and even if you don’t, losing yourself at (in the) Vortex involves three days of back-to-back DJs in a secluded forest, surrounded by mountains. Think bright colours, beautifully shaded surroundings and beats that’ll make you forget where you are. Vortex might not be the best choice if you’ve never been to a trance party, but if you know that this is for you, you’ll love every moment of it. Some love it so much that the organisers have allowed anyone with a ticket to camp for free for an entire week before (or after) the festival. As they describe it themselves, it’s a ‘pure and true psychedelic trance party’.
Date: 30 Jan 2014 – 2 Feb 2014
Venue: Swellendam, Western Cape
Cost: R500 – R600
If you’ve always wanted to go to a live music festival in South Africa but you’re afraid of being trampled in the masses and losing your friends at night, Up the Creek is definitely for you. On the other hand, if you’ve done the massive festivals, you’ve seen some international acts and you’re keen for a more chilled-out weekend, you too should check it out. Up the Creek is one of the smallest live music festivals and it’s all about relaxing and enjoying the tunes. There is no VIP area, meaning no pretense and no one more important than anyone else. The river stage is one of the highlights of the festival. Bring along a floating device of any colour and shape and relax in the water (with your drink) while folk, indie and rock bands play on the banks.
Date: 6 – 9 March 2014
Venue: Elandskloof, Villiersdorp
Cost: R600 – R700
Date: 6 – 9 March 2014
Venue: Witfontein, Bronkhorstspruit
Cost: R600 – R700
If you’re in it purely for the electro, don’t go to Ramfest. If you’re in it for the rock and alternative music, this is the festival for you. Ramfest is known to please even the heaviest metal-headed festival goer with an entire stage dedicated to alternative music. Of course, there’s also the main stage to keep local rock and indie fans happy. 2012 saw artists like Bring me the Horizon, As I lay Dying, Rise Against and Pendulum headline the festival. In 2014 you can look forward to watching Foals, Trivium, Biffy Clyro and Killswitch Engage. Don’t worry electro fans, there’s always a stage and many DJ’s that’ll keep you jamming ‘til morning. Read more about last year’s Ramfest festival here.
Date: 17 – 21 Apr 2014
Venue: Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal
Cost: R400 – R600
Established in 1990, Splashy Fen is South Africa’s longest-running music festival. It is also heavily orientated towards family and outdoor activities, so apart from river dives and open-air dancing sessions, you can spend your days playing paintball, zooming down zip lines or tubing on the river. You can also get your hippie on in the Tribal Village, a more basic camping experience a little removed from the main camp. Expect quite the variety of music genres, like ska, reggae, folk, acoustic, drum ‘n bass and even some electro. Splashy Fen happens every Easter, but start planning now to make it a memorable one.
Date: 15 – 17 March 2014 (tbc)
Venue: Contermanskloof, Durbanville, Western Cape
Cost: R300 – R380
If you’re keen for a festival, but you don’t feel quite fanatical enough about live music to dedicate a weekend to it, then this happy, colourful anything-goes festival less than an hour out of Cape Town city centre is just what you need. Think whimsical, think crazy costumes, think lighthearted and think comical. These folks are here to have fun and that’s exactly what you’ll do as well. There are no clear boundaries here. One moment you’ll be watching an acoustic act or jamming it out to a DJ and the next you’ll be in the middle of a giant outdoor dance session or laughing at some or other comedian. Take your craziest costume and expect someone to look even weirder than you. If you’re still not convinced, read why the Flamjangled Tea Party is like no other music festival or these ten awesome things about the tea party.
Venue: Tankwa, Karoo, Western Cape
Cost: R350 – R750
Our former web editor, Sarah Duff, attends Afrikaburn every year and will happily to tell you why she thinks AfrikaBurn is the best festival in the world. You won’t need me to tell you anything more. This local equivalent of America’s Burning Man, held in the Nevada Desert annually, lasts for about a week and is a living city of art that just seemed to have appeared out of nowhere – in the middle of nowhere. AfrikaBurn works on a gifting system. No money is exchanged so you need to bring everything you need along with you as well as any items you think would be cool to gift to others. All kinds of artists bring their talent, creating a range of stages around the large inner circle and an art exhibition like no other in this vast, dry and beautiful space. You’ll literally lose yourself between the theme camps, costumes, music and performance and you’ll feel like an entirely different, and much freer, person from the moment you arrive.
Date: August 2014 (tbc)
Venue: Northam, Limpopo
Probably the original live rock festival in South Africa, Oppikoppi is a city of rock and you can expect just that. Thousands make the trek to Northam annually, despite the dust, the heat and the lack of shade. Oppikoppi is still the ultimate festival that any lover of rock should attend at least once. Deftones and Yellowcard were the international headliners at the 2013 festival and Bullet for my Valentine created a serious stir at the 2011 festival so you can be sure to get an impressive bunch for 2014. But don’t just go for the international acts. Oppikoppi is the home of the rock music festival and you’ll get to see many incredibly talented local bands playing their most ultimate sets.
So are you ready to book your tickets and start planning a summer jam packed with festivals? This music festival survival guide and these 10 essentials to get you through a music festival will give you all the tips and tricks you’ll need to make this festival season your best yet. If you still haven’t had enough, keep the party going while our festivals are hibernating with these top international festivals taking place in Europe and North America. Alternatively, make a trek to Lake of Stars on the banks of the beautiful Lake Malawi.
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